Owen hands me a spectrogram of the November al Jazeera broadcast. A storm of black lines covers the paper strip from top to bottom, end to end. With Owen's coaching, I imagine I can see the underlying formant bars, all but obscured behind a dark veil of background noise and broadcast carrier signals. A biometrics program could never sort through the noise, Owen insists. "They're designed to work with perfect samples." Cleaning up the tape won't work either, he says. "That's fine if all you want to do is hear what he's saying more clearly. But cleaning up background noise removes the high and low frequencies I need to make my identification." A biometric system demands the same frequencies, he says, and while he believes the NSA has obtained samples of bin Laden's voice that he is not privy to, he doesn't believe the agency has made biometric breakthroughs on the analysis side.